Cloud Mountain

Aimee Liu, Author Warner Books $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-446-51987-8
This hefty, sometimes moving but melodramatic epic recounts the woes of a Chinese-American mixed marriage during the early 1900s. Hope, a young teacher, and Liang, one of her Chinese students (renamed Paul), meet in San Francisco in 1906. After Liang rescues Hope from the wreckage of the 1906 earthquake, the two young people defy their parents and marry. As a mixed couple, Paul and Hope suffer bigotry--first in America, and later when they go to China, but this problem pales in comparison to the trials Hope faces within her marriage. Obsessed with bringing democracy into China, Paul is deeply embroiled in the country's volatile politics, from the overthrow of the Manchus to the war with Japan. Although the couple lives in luxury, with an entourage of servants, Hope must frequently uproot her young family as they move around the country. The book's overwhelming refrain becomes her unheeded plea for Paul to give up his risky political work. The novel's colorful historical context often prompts Liu (Face; Solitaire) into purple prose, and the drama sometimes runs dangerously close to movie-of-the-week sensationalism. And while Liu records any slight against Hope, she is surprisingly quick to stereotype other characters, such as the two other brides with whom Hope travels, a hard-drinking slutty Irish woman and a beefy Scandinavian type. This myopia and Hope's whining throughout the relatively easier parts of her life make her a difficult character to sympathize with. Luckily, her attitude improves toward the book's end, and she bears up well under some truly frightening experiences. Literary Guild alternate; first serial to Good Housekeeping; foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland and the U.K.; simultaneous Time Warner audio. (June) FYI: Liu based Cloud Mountain on the lives of her American grandmother and Chinese grandfather.
Reviewed on: 06/02/1997
Release date: 06/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 978-0-446-16577-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-57815-215-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 2 pages - 978-1-57042-480-9
Paperback - 672 pages - 978-0-446-67434-8
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